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Regional Arts Development Central West NSW
spread the word 
Arts activities that promoted healthy lifestyle and raises awareness of chronic disease to Aboriginal communities in the NSW Central West.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this page may contain the images, names and words of people who are now deceased.

Spread the Word was a 2012-2013 (phase 1) and 2013-2014 (phase 2) project of Arts OutWest that promoted healthy lifestyle and raises awareness of chronic disease to Aboriginal communities in the NSW Central West.

This Local Community Campaign was developed with funding from the Australian Government through the Department of Health and Ageing.

Over the 20 months of the program hundreds of people participated in arts activities linked to healthy lifestyle and promoting healthy messages.

Spread the Word was delivered in partnership with the Aboriginal Health Unit and the Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Strategy (AMIHS) and involved a variety of artforms to help educate people about chronic disease and encourage healthy lifestyles. The health promotions officer position received support from Verto.

About the program

The program trained Aboriginal artists in graphic design; film, animation and hip hop activities; and worked with Aboriginal pregnant women and young mothers through belly-casting and other artwork.

On the ground health workers participated in the workshops to inbed health messaging. For example, bellycasting sessions were attended by health workers who discussed health issues with the participants whilst they worked. The participants took home a completed cast that will remind them of their bond with their child but also the health messages learnt whilst making the piece.

  • Participation and engagement in arts activities
  • Access for health workers to traditionally ‘hard to reach’ groups of people
  • Exposure to health messages and discussion about dealing with chronic health issues
  • Production of materials (whether that be in music, posters, artworks etc) made by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people about chronic health issues
  • Employment of Aboriginal artists
2013-14 workshops

Workshops in phase 2 included: hip hop film music and film with Desert Pea Media in Lake Cargelligo; a long running weekly belly casting series in Wellington and belly casting/ young parents art workshops in Lake Cargelligo; dance performance as part of the Catapult Festival (Bathurst, with performers from Cowra); an extension of graphic design training with Aboriginal artists.

Public showcases

Work made 2012-2013 (phase one) went on show at three public showcases at Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre (May 21, 2013), at the Ninda Gallery Peak Hill (May 24 and Saturday May 25, 2013) and the Platypus Gallery in Forbes (May 31 and Thursday June 1, 2013).

Dance performance in Condobolin

Jo Clancy, an Aboriginal dancer and teacher, spent time in Condobolin working with a group of young dancers who she has developed a relationship with over six years.

They rehearsed a dance piece, a blend of traditional and contemporary motifs and styles, and performed it at a Lachlan Arts Council event in Condobolin in May 2014. Jo’s workshops also emphasised the importance of healthily eating, exercise and lifestyle for dancers. Jo similarly worked with young dancers from Cowra and Bathurst to create the welcome to country opener for the Catapult youth circus festival in Bathurst in April 2014.

Designing Health Messages

Aboriginal artist Nyree Reynolds, with the guidance of graphic designer April Solomon, created a new health poster Nyree designed as part of the project.

Poster designed by Nyree Reynolds

The graphic design component of Spread the Word aimed to give digital design skills to professional artists in the region and for these artists then to create culturally appropriate posters featuring health messages.

Over three full-day sessions, working out of the computer labs at Orange TAFE, April Solomon taught design principles and computer programs to a small group of artists.

“We worked to a brief,” April explains. “Staff from Aboriginal Health and from Mental Health came into the first session and we discussed the messages they most needed to promote.” With the artists she spent time talking about what was needed in a client brief. “We talked about context, audience and messages,” April said.

Given a list of health messages to choose between, Gamilaroi artist Nyree Reynolds elected to make a poster encouraging Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people to identify themselves when arriving at hospital emergency departments. There is currently an under-reporting of ATSI status in hospitals in NSW. A 2012 NSW Health report also found that Aboriginal people are more likely to leave the emergency department before completing treatment than non-Aboriginal people. Western Local Health District staff hope that by more people identifying themselves as Aboriginal, better processes can be developed and appropriate information provided to assist them through the triage process. It would also improve data collection and the identification and treatment of chronic disease.

“We then went back to our own [existing] artworks and found ones that worked for the message,” Nyree explains.

The artists learnt camera skills for photographing their art, and learnt about different file types, editing skills in PhotoShop, using InDesign for layout and preparing files for print.

Already a successful professional painter, Nyree has used these three sessions with April, and a last year’s Spread the Word digital design workshops, to develop computer design skills and confidence and to think about new ways of sharing and using her artwork.

“What I love it that I’ve learnt lots of little things, specific things” Nyree said. “It’s been really good. What I have learnt will be really useful, I’ll take it back to how I do my artwork… it’s taken me off in another direction.”

Nyree’s poster features her trademark bright background with faces and figures painted over the top.

“It was important to show Aboriginal people of different skin colours, and I’ve included the Aboriginal and Australian flags because people identify differently. The Australian flag represents someone like me who [is Aboriginal but] didn’t grow up Aboriginal” she explains. “The text I’ve chosen is ‘Don’t be shy. Indentify’.”

The posters were displayed in health services in the region.

Nyree, who sat at the time on the Blayney Health Council, felt the posters would be a really positive thing to see in the hospital.

Desert Pea hip hop tracks and films

Arts OutWest has been working with Desert Pea Media for many years. DPM head into communities, make connections, spend the time to talk to elders and get talking to young people.

For our Spread the Word Aboriginal arts and health project, Desert Pea Media worked in Condobolin, Forbes, Orange and most recently Lake Cargelligo. For the Lake project the guys from Desert Pea were joined by Aussie hip hop legend Ozi Batla.

Two films were produced in Lake Cargelligo: an inspiring doco and a hip hop track.

An interview with Lake Cargelligo elders and artists Lola Black and Lindsay Kirby:

Toby Finlayson – Producer/ Director/ Writer/ Cinematographer
Joel Westlake – Sound Recordist
Josh Nicholas – Camera Assistant/ Grip

And a new hip hop track by The LC Crew:

Young people from Lake Cargellico – Co-writers/ Performers/ Co-directors
Toby Finlayson – Co-writer/ Director/ Producer/ Cinematographer
Joel Westlake – Co-writer/ Composer/ Music Producer
Shannon Kennedy – Co-Writer/ Mentor
Josh Nicholas – Co-composer/ Camera Assistant/ Music Producer

Students participating in the hip hop project were from Lake Cargelligo Central School and St Francis Xavier Central School. Thank you to the teachers at the schools for making this project possible.

The Koori Mail covered the project on April 23, 2014.

See the other tracks made for the Spread the Word project:

Promoted healthy lifestyle and raises awareness of chronic disease to Aboriginal communities in the NSW Central West.

Strategic areas: arts and health, Aboriginal arts development

Locations: Bathurst, Conobolin, Cowra, Forbes, Lake Cargelligo, Orange, Parkes, Peak Hill, Wellington  

When: 2012-2014

Funded by: the Australian Government through the Department of Health and Ageing

Partnering with: the Aboriginal Health Unit and the Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Strategy (AMIHS)

Team (for Arts OutWest): Christine McMillan (arts and health coordinator), Anna Evans (health promotions officer), with AOW staff; AMIHS health workers

Artists employed: Desert Pea Media (Toby Finlayson, Joel Westlake, Shannon Kennedy, Josh Nicholas), April Solomon, Jo Clancy.

Thanks also to: Verto